Sunday, March 20, 2011 8:20 p.m.
By Rich Tandler
The quick take: Five of the Redskins seven picks in the upcoming draft are in rounds 5-7.
The Redskins have had a difficult time finding productive players late in the draft and they are hoping that Mike Shanahan will be able to continue the success he enjoyed doing that in Denver.
Despite the fact that grades will be issued almost immediately, we wont know how well the organization did in this draft for a few years. The Washington Redskins have seven picks in the upcoming NFL draft. That is the standard number of selections that is issued to each NFL team, but the Redskins dont have the normal distribution of picks. They have their own picks in the first and second rounds but they will not pick after that until the fifth. Five of their seven picks will be made on Saturday during rounds five through seven. That being the case, if the Redskins are to have a successful draft they will have to get it done in the late rounds. It should be fairly easy to find a productive immediate starter either on offense or defense with their first round pick, the 10th overall. And in the second round, the 41st pick, there should be a player who can develop into a starter fairly quickly. By the time you get down to the fifth round, however, the players who can be of immediate help to fill needs are gone and you are looking for diamonds in the rough, special teams players, and depth. Maybe, just maybe with patience, persistence, and a little luck, you can land a starter or two on Saturday. The Redskins had five Saturday selections in 2010. One of them, fifth-round pick Dennis Morrison, is gone. Linebacker Perry Riley, a fourth-round pick, spent the whole season on the 53-man roster and played some special teams but he played just 10 snaps on defense. Seventh-round picks wide receiver Terrence Austin and offensive linemen Eric Cook and Selvish Capers did not make the team coming out of training camp. All three were signed to the practice squad. Austin and Cook were brought up to the 53-man roster later in the season. Austin ended up playing just 41 snaps on offense and Cook was never on the game-day active list. We do not know if those four players will end up being productive. We do know that the Redskins have had a difficult time in finding productive players late in the draft. Since 2000, the Redskins have drafted 45 players in rounds four through seven. Of those, 11 never played in the league (not counting Capers and Cook). They have combined for a total of 13 years as NFL starters. The Philadelphia Eagles, by comparison, have drafted 61 players late and they have combined 35 years as primary starters at their positions. The Redskins hope that Mike Shanahan has brought along some of the late-round prowess that he displayed while he was with the Denver Broncos from 1995-2008. He made 70 selections from the fourth round on and they started a combined 66 NFL seasons (not counting Nick Harris 10-year run as an NFL punter). Again, a player drafted on Saturday does not have to be a starter to be successful pick. But the Redskins have had a hard time even coming up with good role players. There have been a few, such as Rock Cartwright (7th round, 2002) and Reed Doughty (6, 2006). For every player like those two, however, there are several like Quincy Sanders (5, 2000), Jared Newberry (6, 2005), Manuel White (4, 2000) and Dallas Sartz (5, 2007). As previously noted, the success or failure of this draft will be determined well after the bright lights have been turned off and some mid-level NFL staffer, not the commissioner, is announcing the picks. Although grades will be passed out the moment the draft ends, it will be folly to try to evaluate the Redskins efforts for a few years. If they can get a player or two that develop into starters in 2013 and a couple of key reserves and role players on Saturday, it will be a solid performance.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net.